There’s a lot of queries from opticians regarding the need to combat the challenge of online stores and their impact on retail business. And quite frankly there may be a lot of opinions out there but no real answer. Siraj Bolar tries to analyse the scenario and provides some insight into this
Some opticians choose to create their own online store (with very limited success), some have chosen to opt for the marketplace option (with even lesser success) and others are waiting and watching (with no real success).
What can you as an optician do?
- Update yourself about available technology
- E-network with your clients
- Focus on service
- Create Differentiation
1) Update yourself about available technology
This does not mean try an become a developer or a programmer. And it also does not mean that you should keep track of the growing number of online stores and their success stories (or failure in some cases). But rather browse around for technology that makes your practice more relevant. Technology that helps you conduct your business in a more organised way. Better tools to sell, better tools to dispense, better tools to reach out to your clients. And with the option of ‘Software as a service’ (SAAS) model available today these technologies are very affordable.
2) E-network with your client
Again this does not mean bombarding your clients with irrelevant whatsapp messages every morning! But rather engage them by ensuring your social media is updated with interesting content. I know it’s easier said than done. But there are simpler methods to do this. Instead of trying to cook up your own content (remember you are an optician and not a publisher) share content for relevant publications on your social media regularly. Ensure that the client is aware of the brands you stock and the services you provide by somehow connecting these posts to your store’s collection. For example if a particular star was seen wearing a particular brand of eyewear it’s normally reported on some magazine sites.. and chances are you stock that brand.. well, share the post and invite your clients to visit your store. This is just one of the ways.. there’s plenty more.. start getting creative.
3) Focus on service.
What distinguishes you from an online store is the service you provide. And this is what will hold you good in the long run. The older generation clientele still prefer the personal attention that the optician provides and normally they prefer to visit the optician still. But the newer generation needs a lot more coaxing and incentive to visit you over the online option or the mall option. And providing this client a service does not mean just vision care. For this new generation, service includes ambience, presentation, digital payments and product knowledge over and above the regular optician service that you provide. In fact they will value your real service only if it’s packaged with ambience and presentation.
4) Create differentiation.
What differentiates your optical store from another one down the street? If there’s nothing then try and create this differentiation and make sure you make the client aware of this. Unfortunately this too is easier said than done. But staying relevant today, means finding that particular advantage that you as an optical store provide that maybe other’s don’t. It could be as simple as a ‘service with a smile’ or ‘providing visits by optometrists for senior citizens at home’ or maybe just some CSR activity in the neighbourhood.
Use every opportunity to spread the word that you exist and that you provide a certain service. Staying relevant is the mantra for survival and success today.
Does An Opportunity Already Exist?
The Zeiss ‘You&Eye’ Awards 2019 participation is now open for opticians. Use this platform to reach out to your consumers. It’s an option and opportunity that I’d recommend at the cost of sounding like I am promoting my own project. But still, I’d like you to to try it and let me know if it works for you. Click on the link below to know more
Siraj Bolar is the CEO of FourPlus Media and the Editor in Chief of VisionPlus Magazine. He has his best friends in the optical industry and is passionately involved in its development and evolution.